At President McKinley’s declaration of war against Spain untold numbers of the flower of American young manhood without waiting for the call to arms came forward voluntarily to enlist in the cause of freedom for an oppressed and long ill treated people, the dependents of the arrogant Spanish nation, whose dastardly act in destroying the Battleship Maine aroused the wave of patriotism in all parts of the nation that recalled the same spirit of the Colonists in the Revolution in the struggle for liberty.
At the declaration of war by the President, the bitter feeling of the South toward the North that existed for so long was almost forgotten and brought the two sections of the nation together in their zeal to retaliate for the death of the brave American seaman in the waters of Havana Harbor.
The young men of Grafton, too, were stirred at this act and eager for the great adventure came forward eagerly to voluntarily offer their services to their country.
Those who served were: George Allender, William L. Garrett, William P. Samples, Sr., Charles E. Burke, Sr., Harry Glenn, William R. Williams, James G. Brown, Edward H. Hostler, William S. Wilmoth, C. West Burke, Thomas Hopkins, William Wright, William Courtney, Charles Kirby, Herbert Wolfe, Isaac Dayton, Clarence Painter, Walter Stewart, T. Maurice Davis, Francis Phillips, S.M. Squires, George P. Flanagan, William Rowe, and Levi Porter, and perhaps others who saw action in the Philippines and Cuba who are not members of the society known as Spanish-American war veterans.
Captain Charles E. Burke, Sr., prominent dealer in automobile accessories, William Courtney, S.M. Squires, William R. Williams and William Wright are employees of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad in the transportation and operating departments, Charles Kirby, an advocate and solicitor of the Townsend Old Age plan, Edward H. Hostler, prominent plumber and gas fitter, William P. Samples, prominent attorney and member of the State and Taylor County Bar associations, are residents of Grafton. Clarence Painter is a resident of Thornton. George B. Flanagan served as superintendent of the Grafton National Cemetery to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Colonel Osar Wright in March 1928 and occupied the position until succeeded by Placide Rodrigures C. West Burke died from sudden heart attack in June 1939. T. Maurice Davis, for many years linotype operator on the Grafton Sentinel, and Herbert Wolfe, a merchant at Webster and West Grafton, have answered the call of “taps” and sleep among the untold millions of the nation’s dead who like these lads came forward of their country’s call in her hour of need. The other veterans of this war have been lost sight of in the march of time and doubtless are engaged, if still living, in gainful pursuit, of their useful occupations, like those of their comrades in Grafton.
The Taylor county jury sitting at the trial of Mrs. Izona Myers for shooting Mrs. Fannie Plum in September 1897, found a verdict of malicious shooting with intent to kill against her. Judge Joseph Hoke sentenced her to serve two years in the state penitentiary at Moundsville, the first woman in Grafton to be confined between the walls of the state penal institution.
Dr. Scott A. Harter, the best known and most prominent physician of Knottsville district, was stricken with paralysis that resulted fatally April 7, 1898. He practiced medicine about the county for more than 30 years and was known for his kindly disposition and his great skill as a healer of the ills that afflict humanity. He was prominently identified with many forward movements for the betterment of the county. He was appointed pension examiner for Taylor county by President Harrison 1888. A veteran of the Civil war and member of Reno Post No. 7, Grand Army of the Republic, he was active in the deliberations of that organization and at his death he was interred at Knottsville with military honors.
Hon. John J. Davis, perhaps the most prominent attorney in West Virginia in his day and a resident of Clarksburg attending the April session of the Taylor county court was heard to say: “While he was not in political accord with President McKinley, he heartily endorsed his course in the present crisis of the nation (Spanish-American war). He thought the President’s course was not only wise, but bore evidence of the highest statesmanship, and that if the President was permitted to do so, would bring the country through the present diplomatic difficulties without war and still maintain the dignity of the nation.
Hon. J. Hop Woods, the first citizen of Barbour county and most prominent attorney of Philippi, expressed himself along the same line, saying he too, heartily endorsed the President and his policy. When two gentleman of the highest standing, but opposed politically to the President and the administration, give praise for the conservative course adopted by the President under these trying circumstances, show that those whose influence carry weight want war to be the last resort in settling this internal difficulty.
James Stealey, Sr., who for many years conducted a produce fish and oyster market in Grafton and who was one of the unfortunate sufferers of the great fire of 1887 whose loss forced him to retire to the home of his son at Elkins, a practicing dentist, died in the Randolph county city April 10, 1898, and was interred at Elkins.
Professor S.B. Pfrotzman, principal of Pruntytown public school after the close of the term married Miss Virgie Good, a teacher in the primary department of the school April 12, 1898. Professor Protzman and his bride soon after the wedding left for Morgantown where the couple were engaged to teach in the public school in that city.
Hugh Barbee, former Grafton citizen, who was seriously crippled in a wreck on the Philadelphia division of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad while driving his locomotive drawing the Royal Blue, fast passenger train between Baltimore and Philadelphia that incapacitated him from further service. He engaged in the retail mercantile business in the city of Philadelphia and prospered in his new venture. He came back to Grafton in 1898 to visit relatives and renew old acquaintances, who were pleased to see him looking so well after his bad accident that forced him to use crutches in moving about.
He began his career in the old stone shops and later was promoted to fireman on the Parkersburg branch. During the great railroad strike of 1877, he refused to join the ranks of the stricken and when the strike was lost he fired the first train driven by Isaac Ruble over the Parkersburg branch for his loyalty was promoted to locomotive driver in the freight service on that part of the Baltimore and Ohio system.
In 1896 when the Baltimore and Ohio extended their line from Baltimore to Philadelphia, Hugh Barbee, John F. Clayton, George Robinette, Georg Armstrong, George Strumer, and Patrick Fitzgerald were transferred from Grafton and given charge of the locomotive driven on this newest part of the system.
Allegheny company, Uniformed Rand of the Knights of Pythias, holds drills weekly under captain F. Bruce Blue to prepare for war in case it is declared with Spain and are ready to offer their services to the government at the first call to the very last man of the company.